February 2011

No Conching Please

Rodolphe Lindt opened a chocolate factory in Bern, Switzerland in 1879. He invented a process called “conching” for processing ground cocoa beans. It was called “conching” because the original machine resembled a conch shell. By raising the temperature and mixing for hours, some volatile chemicals are driven off to improve flavor, moisture is removed and cocoa butter is distributed evenly which improves texture. The exact conching method used by chocolate manufacturers is a closely held trade secret because it has so much influence on flavor and texture.

Giant Chocolate Cake

Ok, we all know about the obesity epidemic. The airlines have to put in bigger seats and the hospitals need new gurneys, stretchers, beds, etc. We are like alcoholics living insider a bar. There is fattening food everywhere calling to us. As someone said, “If you wonder why it is so hard to break bad consumer habits, it is partly because there are people making a lot of money off of your habits and are spending some of it to make sure you keep that habit.”  One problem is the size of portions in restaurants. Burt and I often split one dinner entrée when we go out to eat or we bring half of our separate entrées home because the helpings are so big. (We don't split dessert!!)

Flicks Candy: Can You Go Home Again?

Until yesterday if you had asked me to name candies which I remembered from my childhood in the 1970s and 1980s, Flicks would not have made that list. But there I was at the little market in town, standing glassy-eyed in front of a big stand-up display that proclaimed they were "Just like you remember!" And lo: I remembered.

The story of Flicks is frankly a lot more compelling than the candy itself. They were made by Ghirardelli for almost 100 years. On the same machine. This machine eventually gave up the ghost in 1989, and rather than spend the money to repair it, Ghirardelli decided to just let it go. (This explains the withdrawal of Flicks from the market.)

But wait, there's more!

I love chocolate!

I love chocolate! I have loved chocolate since I was a little kid. Of course, the only chocolate I had then was Hersey's. Then, in my teens, I discovered hot fudge sauce at the local ice cream shop. I would always ask for an extra scoop of fudge sauce and get an incomprehending stare from the high school kid behind the counter.Time went by and the choices multiplied and diversified. At times through the years, I have overdone it.

Valentine's Day Chocolate Don't (for Adults)

Don't give Hershey's anything. Just... don't.

Don't give Hershey's anything. Just... don't.

If you are on a budget there are so many better ways to say "I love you", like just saying "I love you", for instance. Giving Hershey's is like saying "I care about you enough to give you cheap, mass produced, preservative rich, diabetes that is masked as actual chocolate" - which to some might mean you really don't care that much.

Valentine's / Mother's Day DIY Chocolate Truffles

It's more romantic (and cheaper) to make them yourself!

Everyone and their mom knows that Valentine's Day is the day when those who are in love give each other presents. The two biggest Valentine's Day presents that come to mind are 1. Candy (Chocolate) and 2. Flowers - for this article we are going to be focusing on the chocolates.

In fact, in this article we are going to learn how to make these chocolates for the ones we love. It is not only more romantic to create these little truffles for your lover (or lovers, or yourself...), but it is also less expensive! You will also give the candy stores a run for their money - literally, you will never buy retail again - when you taste these.

To get started you will need just a few basic ingredients (for 6 truffles):

3 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips